NS Norfolk Community
Historic marker dedication ceremony attracts a small crowd
Story by Max Lonzanida on 03/08/2019
On September 5, 1781 just off the coast of Lynnhaven Bay in what is now Virginia Beach, three commanders met to discuss tactics and plans to defeat the British during the Revolutionary War. General George Washington, Commander of the combined American and French Armies, Comte de Rochambeau, Commander of the French expeditionary Army, and Admiral Francois Joseph Paul de Grasse, Commander of a large French fleet of warships met aboard De Grasse’s flagship.
The meeting forever changed the course of history and led to a combined victory over British forces in Yorktown just a few months later. The significant meeting led to the placement of a state historic marker, approved by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources in June 2018; and in amid brisk weather at Lynnhaven Colony Park on Shore Drive, a small crowd gathered to commemorate the markers unveiling.
Members of the 7th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line, a historic re-enactment group were present in period specific uniform. French officers stationed at the NATO Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk were also present, including members of the French Air Force, Navy and Army. Mark Reed, Historic Preservation Planner with the City of Virginia Beach provided some opening remarks. James Hare, from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources also provided some remarks into the logistics involved with the placement of the historic marker.
Virginia Beach Mayor Robert M. Dyer provided some historical remarks about the meeting and noted that “the victory would not be possible without the critical assistance from the French Army and Navy.” He also stressed the continued partnership and indicated that “our friendship and allegiance to each other will continue.”
Following Mayor Dyer’s remarks, General Andre Lanata, Supreme Allied Command for NATO Allied Command Transformation, took the podium. General Lanata previously served as Chief of Staff for the French Air Force. General Lanata referenced historical and current partnerships that French and American Forces have made over the course of history. He touched on the role that French forces played at Yorktown, the role that French volunteers of the Lafayette Escadrille took during the Battle of Belleau Wood during WWI, and the role that French forces had during conflicts in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Balkans as examples of steadfast friendship between the United States and France. He concluded by noting that:
“At this very moment men and women are deployed around the world to protect what we are believing in and what we are fighting fiercely for because we will not be intending to change our way of life. We will protect peace together everywhere. this is exactly the vocation of NATO. Then as now US and France share the values of honor, gallantry and respect.”
A brief gift exchange commenced, and thereafter, members of the 7th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line, followed by the contingent of French Officers marched smartly to the roadside marker. There, amid passing cars, a small crowd stood and watched as the historic marker was unveiled. Applause followed, and as did a round of photos; and after a round of handshakes and warm smiles, everyone dispersed to enjoy a reception at nearby Bobo’s Fine Chicken Restaurant and to warm up after being in brisk temperatures.